Mar 082016
 

Another week another post, let’s see if there’s anything interesting for y’all to learn this week!

JIt’s been quite a week, this busy little bee has been going at it, hard. Even more so next week, can’t wait to write more about my SpeedTree adventures in the next recap! If you scroll past the shader section there’s some SpeedTree thoughts here as well!

Busy Bee

Buzz buzz buzz

So this week I’ve been looking deeper into shaders and the over all look of the project, I’ve had long debates with myself on whether or not we are going to have normal maps as part of the asset pipeline.

The quickest way for me to create characters is to sculpt them, thus, getting the normal maps for the characters is pretty much free. As for other assets, there’s no way I can sculpt them all and there will also be a lot of tileable textures for the majority of the environments.

Part of dissolve shader

Part of dissolve shader

We don’t have to worry about the triss amount with the art style I’ve chosen, so getting the tiled assets to look good won’t be an issue, normal maps or not.

While playing around with the shaders I always went back to the standard shader. This was to make sure that that didn’t look better. To be honest, with correct lighting the standard shader truly is gorgeous. Because of this I’ve started to break down the Unity standard shader to see what I can possible add, maybe I’ll want light ramps, I know for sure I’ll want transmission and Fresnel for some assets and effects.

So what have I decided upon you ask? Well have a look at the difference between these two screenshots, one is with and the other is without normal maps.

Normal | No normal

Normal | No normal

While this in no way resembles the final look of the game, it’s clear to me that skimping out on normal maps, especially on the characters, will give way less visual interest. Also consider that this is just a still image, when the light is playing over the surfaces, the difference is greater still, especially on the foliage!

So we want normal maps, but with me being the only artist, there is not enough time to sculpt all of these textures, what about generating them from a diffuse texture? Will it look good enough, the answer can be found in the next sentence.

When I went into 3D content creation, we had Nvidias Normalmap filter, great for small surface detail, but is it strange that people who have been in the business for a long time are still using zBrush for all their normal map needs?

New | Old

New | Old

With today’s normal generators being as powerful as they are, this, in my opinion is something we can consider skipping. At least for non-hero objects. If you paint a texture with solid lighting, you’ll get an almost sculpted looking result at a fraction of the time!

SpeedTree

Now then, let’s talk SpeedTree! (If you’re interested in SpeedTree, make sure to follow Gruckel and Eco Tales on twitter.)

I’ve modeled trees before, it was ages ago, and it took me a long time to create, look at it, it is there, up in the corner! Luckily this is the only image I can find on the net which contains content made by me that many years ago.

Fumbie Tree

Fumbies the Cloud Creatures

I got an opportunity to dabble into SpeedTree for a Landscape Architecture project last week at work, you can read about my first thoughts on SpeedTree here.

This weekend however, I managed to create for roughly 18 hours, straight. From noon until 6 am on the following day! Sure I was fueled up on some Red Bull with… “Condiments” but doping is luckily allowed in game development.

I started out by painting the texture, I wanted something for my larger trees first, something with a large gnarly pattern, after some painting I removed a lot of detail, don’t want people to focus too much on the trunks after all.

Looking at it now, I may return to it to give it some additional micro and possibly even mid size details (here’s some info on detail levels), then again, maybe not, I’m quite happy with it.

Hand Painted Gnarled Bark

Måla måla måla!

When I was done painting, I wanted to start of with the most enjoyable asset type there is to create, a hero asset, the tree on the right hand side is in this case my hero tree.

I used the hand draw feature to give it a nice interesting curve and added branches in the same way, branch level 2 I left up to the generators, I then created a few different leaf generators both billboarded and stationary ones with small branches which connect to the tree itself.

At this point I was still using the leaf sprites and leaf models from the free Broadleaf asset, I’m keeping the models, but the textures I am going to recreate myself, more on that in a later post.

SpeedTree:ing it up!

SpeedTree:ing it up!

With this tree looking as unique as it does, the next step was to create a base tree which with rotation and scaling can be used over and over again. For this I went with a standard trunk base and spent a few hours learning how to generate a tree by breaking down SpeedTrees mobile vs desktop versions.

Our triss budget for the trees is quite high, but you should never go overboard just because you can, we’ll see if these will need some polish in the future. For now I’m calling them done.

I will be creating some free basic SpeedTree tutorials in the future, I’m also considering a gumroad tutorial on how to create a fully featured hand painted tree in SpeedTree.

Let me know on Twitter if this is something that would interest you!

 


K Well well well, Jona has indeed been busy while poor me had to be away from Eco Tales and go to Prague on vacation with my partner, it was a few days filled with excellent food (I am some what of a Goulash lover) nice drinks, and a lot of walking and looking and enjoying life to do.

Needless to say life was great, but now I am back and life is still great, any time spent on Eco Tales is time of love and adventure.

So here is an image of me freezing my hairline of in an ice bar in Prague and I will see you next time when I have had a bit more time to actually work on Eco.

Cold in Prague

Cold in Prague

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Feb 262016
 

Yesterday I got a question about creating a quick sketch for a new boulevard in the municipality of Stockholm, naturally, having never done anything like it before, I agreed.

For this assignment I was given a 16 hour deadline and decided to use Unity as a tool to build up the area, I started up with a simple SketchUp model and a plan drawing straight out of AutoCAD.

Sketchup Base 3D Model

Base non-UVed boxes

With most things having to be done in post-production, I still wanted to get some nice lighting out of Unity, additionally, having the main textures already applied and corrected according to perspective when entering post would save a bunch of time.

Having used 3Ds Max for. Wow… This month marks my tenth year anniversary of opening the program for the first time, I went with that.

Look at that, my first finished model, isn’t it lovely… Hah, if I had a penny for every time I got bullied by my friends at Uni for it, I would never have had to start working at all. It’s even copyrighted, one of them still uses it as avatar on Steam… But I digress.

Ten year anniversary

Ten year anniversary

Modeling the street, UVing the parts that needed to be textured, the creation of some nice chamfered edges around all small parts of the environment, as well as the placing of most props was done here.

Finished 3Ds Max

Final 3Ds Max model

Next up was textures, the old classical workflow of tiling images from the area specified wouldn’t work for two reasons, it isn’t built and creating textures that way takes a long long time, therefor I decided to go with Substances, I love working those graphs!

Sadly though, while I would’ve loved to get deep deep into Substance Designer to create all textures, I knew there was no time, as such I used Allegorithmic’s Substance Share and merely adapted the graphs for my own specific needs.

Since the final product was to be a still image, I found that floating geometry can be used for things other than normal maps.

Substance Share

Fake it until you make it!

The area was close to a park and I wanted to have trees with a nice correct lighting throughout the leaf crown of every single tree, while this is certainly doable in Photoshop, finding and cleaning images still takes a very very long time.

Instead I risked a gamble, bought a license for SpeedTree and got started.

Roughly 6 hours into the process.

Roughly 6 hours into the process.

SpeedTree is wonderful, I will make sure to write something on it later on when I start using it for hand painted trees in our game, Eco Tales.

Here’s the final Unity3D scene, my screen shoot tool sadly can’t get any of the post processing in on the capture, so I had to forgo it, but with it activated and a few more hours, I’m sure Unity can measure up to Unreal Engine 4 when it comes to visualization projects.

Base picture from Unity

Base scene from Unity

A tip on layers when working on something like this, make sure you name them, doesn’t have to be spelled correctly or well thought out, but trust me, it saves you a lot of head aches, especially if you have to reopen the file again.

Name your layers

Name your layers

This is the final image after 16 hours of work and a lot of back and forth, more work will be done, the trees need to have a species change and there should be more people lulling about.

If you had to guess, what part of the image do you think this image is trying to sell you, which design element is for sale? Tweet me @Gruckel I’d truly love to know if I’ve managed to sell the correct ting here!

Version 3

Version 3 of project Opp

After initial feedback and some back and forth this is the final image we’ll be taking to the client.

Camera moved for final version

Camera moved for final version

The ease with which SpeedTree allowed for quick iteration of the look of the trees as well as species changes has been truly invaluable.

The pattern was moved to where it will actually be placed in real life, most post effects were reusable with slight changes to masking areas.

With the extra hours I also managed to add some post-rendering to the trees and some improved shading on the people.

Another thing which didn’t stick out enough on the original was the seating wall which will run along the entire boardwalk, with people placed there in a seated position this has become way more obvious.

Most interesting of all in a way was the fact that the original seated tables for cafés were switched out based upon how they looked in the last image, creating this image has in a way already payed for it self!

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Dec 152015
 

Wow! The weeks sure pass by in a jiffy when you’re having fun, and by fun I mean devving!

So far at least one hour per day with some days being closer to eight and most at around five to six hours.

December 14th

J Despite my fever haze I managed to read up on advanced facial rigging and create/steal some nice scripts. These will increase the speed of future rigs, super exciting!

I know that I, in the end, will be creating a lot of morph targets to bring the characters to life in game. To avoid a lot of work, I’m going to expand my facial rig to the level of a last gen AAA character. Create all animations for one character then using a hopefully, relatively simple retargeting system, to fit the same animations to all other characters.

Wish me luck… This is unexplored territory for me.

PyMel Python MEL scripts for rigging

PyMel, Python and MEL scripts for rigging


K During the days I work as a teacher, I teach game developemt at LBS Stockholm in Stockholm (surprise surprise) and this week is the last week before all the students leave for their holiday break, needless to say there is a lot on my schedule right now. Enough with the excuses, I managed to scramble together some time and researched some tools that might cmoe handy later in the development, biggest concern right now is how to handle the procedural dungeons, roll my own solution or buy one?

December 15th

J You know those pesky helmets and hairdos where your ears and/or nose clip through, but you know the design works better if you don’t have to make it thinker and longer? After all, wouldn’t the helmet just push the ears in?

Well, considering that I may at one point want a character to scratch its nose or flip an ear, I decided to add three more bones to my rig. This brings the added benefit of allowing us a simple animation state where we can fold ears and nose into for example a helmet or bandana!

This could be a smart solution

This could be a smart solution


K More teacher stuff happening today besides my baby brothers birthday, well at least I had the time to record a instructional video for my students on how time works in Unity, so if you understand Swedish you can enjoy that and several other game development related videos from here.

December 16th

J You’re probably getting sick of this guy’s face, the fact is however that for new characters to be made, this rig needs to be finalized first.

I think that enough of the rig is done now for me to start creating some animations for out little friend.

Face bones, for happy and sassy expressions.

Face bones, for happy and sassy expressions.


K I have begun work on cleaning up and abstracting some systems to release on Asset Store for others to use or learn from.

December 17th

J Created most of the controllers I will use to create base animations and future blend shapes.

Controllers are done

Controllers are done


K Today I finished work on the settings system and prepared it for the asset store where it will be available for free for you to use or learn from.

It is a basic XML based system with a in Unity editor and easily extendable.

UNity3d Settings Editor Window

XML Settings

December 18th

J Made a few expression tests, neutral, happy, shocked and angry which are now driven by a single float value, it’s working quite well.

Expression tests

Expression tests


K This was the last day before the break for the holiday at work, and according to traditions we finish with a big LAN party, now I took the time to work on continuing the work from the day before but know my brains is mush from lack of sleep so I will return tomorrow hopefully with some more work.

December 19th

J Today I skinned some clothes onto the fat man, this is going to be incredibly annoying to fit into a game ready equipment system.

Skinning clothes

Skinning clothes


K Having visitors over for the weekend did not leave much time for work so I am squeezing in some thinking and reflection time thinking about how the different systems will work together.

December 20th

J We’ve just bought a domain and registered a Facebook page name, here’s an idea for the Facebook group profile picture, it’s way too grey though, that’s sure as sure.

Facebook profile pic

Facebook profile pic


K We have done a lot these past weeks and it is time to start thinking more about the story and aesthetics of the game  as its definition will affect a lot of the game itself so now with the holidays quickly arriving there is less time for coding work so I have begun looking into possible themes and settings of the game, looking into folklore.

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Dec 082015
 

Week 2 is up, what will we produce this week?

We’re still going at it, must be at 5 hours per day since the start of December, this was a great initiative by @nerdtimeblog.

December 7th

J I’m back to sculpting again, working on a pair of tier 1 boots for the adventurers and NPCs, just baked the textures before heading off to bed.

Boot workflow, may have gone a bit crazy here…

 


K The 7th of december me and my girlfriend celebrated three years together, a hell of a thing to do on a monday but still I managed to get in my one hour of gamedev, to Lindas great dismay, well I needed to get in some basic animations connected to the player movement, and I did.

 

December 8th

J After baking the shoes I painted them and added a nice matcap with some specular highlights, I do like this look, I took a few of my older assets, a pistol and a shield, edited them slightly and threw them into my scene. Makes me want to render the character and his clothing a bit more thoroughly but I’m afraid there’s no time for that.

Eco Dec 8th


K While we flesh out the game concept I am beginning to test some shop functionality, started out with creating a test scene working my amazing programmer art skills, Jona watch out, soon a will be able to make something more advanced than cubes… Cylinders coming up…

Unity3D Scene for testing.

 

December 9th

J This is going quite well, one hour per day has turned into multiple hours per day, today I clocked in at about 4 hours, in that time I managed to get this skeleton all jointed up and after a pass of geodesic skinning and about 25 minutes of manual tweaks, all that’s left is to make sure the fingers deform well as well as, of course, setting up the controllers for the rig!

Skeleton done, controllers to come!

Skeleton done, controllers to come!


K This day I turned to some of the shop functionality with the ability to place and pick up items for sale shown below with this poorly made animated gif that might or might not work in wordpress.

3D Test Shop

Test Shop with pick up functionality.

 

December 10th

J Today I started on the controllers for my rig, I’ve got the main functionality down, however I want to add a foot roll and a basic facial animation setup.

Would have been further along, however I noticed that chaning colors and freezing transforms was taking too long so I decided to create some basic Python script as well as a MEL script, I’ll convert this to Python later, however I just couldn’t manage in the time I had allowed myself.

Eco Dec 10th

Base rig and controllers

 


K I managed to squeeze in my hour in an otherwise stressfull day by starting looking into Dialogue for Unity which seems to be a really competent dialog system, and even though I’ve made a ton of these myself this will save us a lot of time and have a workflow much nicer than what I have ever accomplished.

December 11th

J The controllers are connected to the rig, there’s a foot roll, and the fingers are animatable, this will be by far the most advanced and easily handled rig I’ve ever created. Currently I have things like the foot roll as well as finger middles and ends connected to custom attributes but I’m thinking I will want these as separate controllers later on.

Rig day 2

Rig day 2


K Today I dwelled deeper into Dialogoue for Unity fixing some left overs from yesterday and looking into its localization functionality from, well… Today.

Oh, and if you are in need of localization or can offer help to indie developers, swing by the Indie Game Localization group I manage on Facebook.

December 12th

J I’ve managed to get a decent if basic face rig going, there will probably be some morphtargets as well in the future but, I think most of the work will be made using the rig.

Oh and here’s a gif for your enjoyment!

Rig Day 3

Rig Day 3


K On the twelfth day of xmas I looked into A* Pathfinding Project Pro for all our path finding needs. I have worked with this tool before a few years back and remembered it as being well rounded solution and well it has only gotten better since then.

I quick test scene later it is up and running with an NPC walking around in the shop browsing warez.

December 13th

J The rig is almost done, going to make a final skinning pass and then I’ll be creating a lot of wonderful morph targets, for now, here’s an old fat man falling over.

Falling Over

Falling Over


K It has been a rough week, we have achieved a lot so today after getting some work done on the dialogue and path finding of the game I decided to clean up the office a bit, something I have failed to do since I moved in here some time ago, well deserved and such a morale boost, so keep it clean, now for some much needed rest.

Clean office

Clean office

Aug 132015
 

The thing we’ve all been waiting exactly one year for has arrived, that’s right, it’s time for #SIGGRAPH2015!

Last week we were (finally?) allowed a sneak peak into Autodesk Stingray, a new engine for the development of games made by Autodesk, with the promise of incredible workflow between 3Ds Max/Maya and Stingray, I must confess, I’m intrigued.

So, back to Siggraph and the unveiling of the new extensions for Maya and 3Ds Max 2016. Extension 1 which will be available on the 11th of August for 3Ds Max subscribers and on the 9th of September for Maya subscribers will include a few things which I personally am very excited about!

Autodesk 3Ds Max 2016 Extension 1

  • Geodesic Voxel and Heat Map solvers are finally coming to 3Ds Max, this means we’re finally getting some long awaited skinning improvements, test these when you can!
Heat Map

I’ll update the post with a video showing off this skinning method in Maya soon!

  • Max Creation Graph (youtube) will be receiving controllers especially made for procedural animation!
  • A new “Game Exporter” which will not only work with Stingray but also update (replace?) the old FBX Export tool to better accommodate for game assets made for engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine 4!
  • Stingray live link, which’ll allow for instant updates between Max and Stingray.
  • A new updated 3D Text tool, finally!

Autodesk Maya 2016 Extension 1

  • Stingray live link, Maya also gets the instant update feature, however in Maya you will allegedly be able to do quite a lot more as far as editing goes!
  • The already existing “Game Exporter” will be updated (watch out for a video on how the current one works for Unreal Engine and Unity.)
  • Hypershade gets procedural texture nodes.
  • The new updated 3D Text tool.
  • Scalable Vector Graphics will now be supported, making 2D vector based art from Adobe Illustrator and the like easy to handle in a 3D world.

Look forward to more coverage of the most interesting things for Unity and Unreal developers unveiled at Siggraph 2015!

All the best!
//Jona

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Jun 012015
 

Well howdy fellow devver!

We’re getting rather well acquainted by now, aren’t we? So many topics to cover in this wonderful engine, I’m just getting started, I hope the same goes for you!

In the first part of the video we look at changing the speed of our animation using material functions.

In the second part we return to 3D Studio Max for frame reductions which will lower the texture sizes and thus free up memory.

Official stats from Epic : In this video we go from a low 252 KB to an insane 13 KB
Vertex Offset Texture: 8 bytes per vertex per frame (each pixel)
Normal Texture: 4 bytes per vertex per frame (each pixel)

 

Keep an eye out for annotations, these allow you to skip things you already know if you’ve watched my other videos!

If you enjoy the videos, please leave a comment on our Facebook page, press that like button! Or maybe even subscribe! There is more to come, I mentioned that right?

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May 272015
 

Hello! (Again, I hope, and if not, welcome virgin! Also, if again, welcome old timer!)

 

Today I’m going to show you how to add an ( Unreal Engine 4, 4.8 ) script to a custom Toolbar inside of 3D Studio max.

If you’re here for the icon template, here it is! UEVertA_Icons.rar more on how icons work, below the video.

If you’re here for the video, it’s ALSO here!

As I stated in the video, _16i is a 24bit 16x(16*N) (where N is amount of icons) .BMP image with the graphics of the icon(s). _16a is a 24bit 16x(16*N) .BMP image with the alpha of the icon(s).

_24i is a 24bit 24x(24*N) (where N is amount of icons) .BMP image with the graphics of the icon(s). _24a is a 24bit 24x(24*N) .BMP image with the alpha of the icon(s).

What this means is that, in the example found below, you have three separate icons in one single image a 24bit 24x(24*3 == 72) .BMP image.

CAT Script 3Ds Max Script Icon

Alpha Map for toolbar icons

Texture for a toolbar in 3ds max

Graphics for toolbar icons

 

 

 

If you have any questions at all or an idea of what you’d like to have exaplained in a video, please comment anywhere, be it youtubeFacebook or even here on the blog!

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